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12 April 2012

INTERFAITH RELATIONS: Two Narratives One Country

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba


There are two narratives of interfaith relation both quite in contrast to each other, but speaks volumes how interfaith relations are progressing in India.


The first one is the recent communal disturbances that has taken place in Hyderabad and well reported in the media.


The second one is from a small district of Bihar and the incidents there were never reported and as such deserves a mention especially when the developments in Hyderabad is raising the question whether the interfaith relationship is improving or deteriorating in our country.


Let’s start with Hyderabad, where some anti- social elements have unleashed a trail of events to create communal hatred among in otherwise peace loving communities, once ruled by Muslim rulers.


Trouble broke out in the old city of Hyderabad when Bajrang Dal activists took out rally targeting Muslim houses alleging that beef was thrown by them in Hanuman Mandir in the Kurmaguda locality there.


There were reports that this mischief was in retaliation to the incidents in Sangareddy district, where some Muslims were targeted and attacked.


The Hindu group was charged up after the beef incident, and allegedly threw pig flesh inside some mosques and hurled wine bottles as well.


All this happened around Hanuman Jayanthi, when most often Hyderabad gets communally charged and its only extra precautionary measure that keep the communal boil in check.
It seems that tension was building up from some time in Hyderabad and both sides failed to settle the issue peacefully.


The most surprising thing was the non responsive attitude of the police. In spite the fact that the tension was building up for some time and their timely action could have controlled the situation, they allowed the violence to spread.


In this case the state intelligence departments totally failed to inform government of the coming trouble and the police forces looked the other way when the anti-social elements were fomenting trouble.


There are many questions that the security agencies have to answer. Why the beef when thrown in the Temple of Kurmaguda was not removed immediately and culprits arrested?


Why the Bajrang Dal was allowed to take out a protest rally in the first place. Why the police did not fire a single round of fire to protect the Muslims when their properties were being damaged.


Here one may like to question the values of the security agencies. What kind of lessons and training they have received when the joined the forces. Instead of stopping communal incident to take ugly turn, they seem to be a party to such act. It’s a foregone conclusion that if they their job in all its fairness such incidents could never have happened.


Does it mean that it was because of communal and corrupt police officers that are posted under political pressure that we see communal disturbances are taking place in old Hyderabad city or there is more to it?


Maybe some sociological studies needs to done on this subject analyzing the cause of communal disturbance happening frequently. Some one needs to find out the reasons and suggests remedies of prevent such disturbances erupting again.


The study should also encompass the role of police in controlling such clashes. Such studies are more essential because there seems to be a conspiracy of silence and no is raising the flag of inter faith relationship and trying to stop such madness.


However, every thing is not lost as there are some bright spots in the country too. Thanks to the upright police officers who have demonstrated how to control the situation in the most adverse circumstances.


Here I may like to cite two incidents that actually happened in Shiekhpura district of Bihar, in both cases attempts to breach communal harmony was nipped in the bud by prompt action taken by the state police.


In one of the villages of the district, a pond endowed to the mosque exists where fishery activity is done for the up keep of the place of worship but that was disputed.


Some misguided Hindu youth lay claim on the pond taking advantage of thin Muslim population in the village. There was a tension brewing up for long time over this issue as the Hindu group wanted net the fish for personal gain.


One day when in a pre planned manner a big Hindu mob swooped on the pond to loot the fishes, the matter was reported to the police, and in no time it retaliated to break the mob furry, beating the boisterous crowd black and blue to the extent of chasing the hoodlums in the fields when they ran for cover and taking them in custody.


In no time the situation was brought under control, there was a police barricade was set up on the pond and Muslims were given police protection and access to do the fishery for the upkeep of the mosque. In course of time communal tension evaporated and the situation became peaceful.


The second incident is also from the same district when Hindu group over night tried to place an idol on the centre of the round-about that’s on the way to many Muslim villages and created a make shift temple.


Muslims, of the area were upset by such provocative gesture but they kept calm and reported the matter to the district authorities.


Again in this case police retaliated very firmly and rounded up the crowd that was reportedly worshiping at the make shift temple. They even uprooted the idol placed there and buried it in the field. Cases were booked against those who were orchestrating communal tension. A police barricade was placed and law and order is restored in no time.


If we compare the Hyderabad narrative with that of Bihar, some signs are obvious. While it was sheer carelessness on the part of the security agencies in Hyderabad that allowed the matter to precipitate and deteriorate, the incidents of Bihar suggests that the prompt action by the police were deterrent for the law breakers and they can never dare to take the law into their hands, at least in their life time.


If we compare the Hyderabad and Bihar narratives then the question that is being asked whether Muslims are safe under the Congress rule or in non Congress rule.


The track record of Congress since independence suggests that it wants en cash the Muslim votes living in perpetual fear. The recent handling of the communal disturbances in Hyderabad is the case in point as the state is ruled under Congress and the police chief is a Muslim.


However, if we go by the conduct of the non congress government of Bihar that is ruled in alliance with the BJP, then it’s obvious that this government is giving the Muslims some hope to live with dignity and security.


Notwithstanding the facts, he contrasting narratives are perfect examples how interfaith relations are panning up in India.


[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

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